February 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #420: MODAM

MODOK is ridiculous. There's a female version of him, too.

Sometimes there’s a character I want to use for this column, but I just held off because I take all my pictures for my articles from Google Images, and there may not be that may.  Today’s entry, it looked like most of the images, the few that were there, all came from if not the same comic book, than possibly even the same page.

Besides, for all that MODOK’s appearance in the most recent Ant-Man movie has gotten some criticism for his general appearance, it’s worth noting that MODAM looks just as ridiculous and actually has a better connection to Ant-Man than MODOK does.

See, MODOK was once a regular guy, AIM technician George Tarleton, who was mutated into the giant-headed bad guy. MODAM is basically a female-version of MODOK.  And just as MODOK stands for “Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing” (the “M” might stand for other things), MODAM’s name stands for “Mental Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers”.  The powers are basically the same in that she needs a floating chair to get around, one equipped with a lot of weapons, but mostly her psychic powers and advanced intellect allow her to do all kinds of dangerous things.  But wait, I said she had a connection to Ant-Man.  What was it?

Oh, she’s Hank Pym’s first wife.  Probably.

Maria Trovaya Pym was Hank’s deceased wife as recounted in Tales to Astonish #44 in June of 1963 by Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley, and Jack Kirby.  She and her father were Hungarians, held for a time as political prisoners.  Her scientist father eventually got a job working for the American government, during which Maria met Hank Pym.  The two fell in love and got married, and while honeymooning in Hungary, Maria criticized Hank’s laziness as not being as industrial as an ant.  This actually prompted Hank to develop his interest in ants.

However, those lousy commies kidnapped Maria right in front of Hank.  Though Hank believed her killed, he swore to do right, becoming Ant-Man and eventually meeting Janet van Dyne, a socialite who bore a strong resemblance to Maria.  However, Maria wasn’t dead.  She was actually pregnant, eventually giving birth to a daughter named Nadia who would become the most recent heroine to go by the name “the Wasp”.  Maria herself was tortured in the infamous Red Room and eventually killed.

Then AIM resurrected her first as SODAM and later as MODAM.  SODAM (“Specialized Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers”) appeared in Solo Avengers #16 in September of 1989, but from what I can tell, she was renamed MODAM and appeared largely in comics written by longtime Marvel scribe, a guy known for pulling back forgotten supervillains from all kinds of obscurity, Mark Gruenwald.  MODAM’s first mission as MODAM was to try to steal Quasar’s quantum bands.  That didn’t work.

From there, she was something of hired muscle, for among other characters the misandrist Superia, and often found herself taking on Captain America.  It is worth noting that there was a period when former partner Omega Red suggested she wasn’t really Maria Pym, but later comics basically confirmed she was and Omega Red was wrong.

As it is, MODAM appears to be dead, with the Red Skull keeping her hover chair as some kind of trophy.  MODOK, from what little I can find, found her attractive due to mental comparability since both are somewhat psycho killers working for AIM.

That said, she was among the many Marvel characters merged with a DC character for the Amalgam Comics line, merged as she was with DC’s Chemo.

So why not include her in the latest Ant-Man movie?  You know what?  I have no idea aside from the obvious that MODOK is better-known and there was an in-film explanation for how MODOK could be some guy with a giant head and regular sized limbs.  Then again, I was less than impressed by the MODOK effects, so maybe it’s for the best.